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Learning Inuit culture and diversity

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Canada World Youth is coming to Nunavut.

The program will make its first stop in Nunavut when Rankin Inlet hosts nine Peruvian and nine Canadian youth from July 28 to Sept. 20.

Program manager Vladimir Gomez paid a visit to Rankin this past week.

Gomez said Canada World Youth has been holding exchange programs between Canada and other parts of the world for the past 40 years.

He said there's been programs held in southern aboriginal communities, but this will mark the first time one will be held this far North.

"We've had 30 Kivalliq youths participate in our programs since 2008," said Gomez.

"We've worked with the Kivalliq Youth Association and Northern Youth Abroad, and we've had 17 youths from Rankin in our programs during the past couple of years.

"We had alumni, such as Lori Tagoona of Rankin, who suggested we have a program in this community.

"So, Canada World Youth has been working with her and Karen Tutanuak to make it happen."

Gomez said he's excited about exposing Canadian and Peruvian youth to the realities of a Northern community.

He said the best ambassadors for the program will be the youths in Rankin.

Engaging with local young people and becoming part of the community for two months will also be a valuable learning experience for the visiting volunteers.

"One of our objectives is the cultural exchange, so one Canadian and one Peruvian youth will live with a host family in Rankin.

"So, one of Lori's main responsibilities during the next few months is to find nine host families for the volunteers.

"By being with a host family, the youths will be exposed to Inuit culture and the diversity of families who live in Rankin Inlet.

"So, we hope they'll learn some Inuktitut and the families will learn some Spanish and French."

Gomez said the youths will volunteer in the community for three or four days a week during their stay.

He said they will be at places such as the drop-in centre, recreation department and schools, among others.

"It's another avenue for the youths to learn about, and be connected to, the community.

"We want them to organize activities with young people here, and they'll also be doing some research.

"We do educational activity days, during which a pair of youths do a presentation on a topic or theme that's related to the community and facilitate a workshop.

"They may do Rankin or Nunavut history, have guest speakers or visit different points of the community."

Gomez said Canada World Youth wants to help bridge the relationship between southern Canadians and Nunavummiut.

He said it also wants to promote its program to the youth of Rankin Inlet.

"With 17 youth alumni from our program, Rankin is a great place for us to start this kind of programming.

"We're really fortunate to have Lori - who participated in our program and worked in our head office this past year - as well as Karen Tutanuak with us.

"That's two key people from Rankin who will help lead this program, so we have the right people in place.

"They're youths, as well, which is really important in terms of role-modelling here in the community."

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